Teenage

Teens shine at Katalyxt's Youth Innovators' Competition

by CHARLENE BUCHANAN

Sunday, April 14, 2019

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Teams of TEEN innovators from across the island assembled at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Downtown Kingston for Katalyxt's annual Youth Innovators' Competition last Thursday.
Despite the rainy weather, students from the 19 participating high schools were all smiles and nervous energy, proudly carrying in all kinds of cables and contraptions.
The competition's late start gave teenAGEthe chance to speak with a number of students about their innovations and their interests.
The five innovators from William Knibb Memorial High School were the first students we spoke to. After posing for a few group photos, Kazane Bedward, Aisha Buchanan, Aldean Foster, Adleyanna Henry and Nakoya Jackson told teenAGEabout their handmade, organic soap. Flanked by science teacher Shawna-Kay Scarlett, team captain/lead innovator Adleyanna Henry explained how her study and extensive knowledge of natural herbs inspired the group's innovative project. After developing an appetite for knowledge about skin care and acne, Adleyanna, with some help from other members of the school's Science Club, got their project up and running.
Science Teacher at Immaculate Conception High School, Mrs Bhagya Malladi, beamed with pride as she pointed out her group of innovators from lower and upper school. Immaculate's innovations included food products (a callalloo and garlic bread knot that judges were delighted to sample), software programming and a compact study kit for students.
Just before the competition's official start Zion Bennett, Justin Linton, Linval McCalla and Corey Smith from Jamaica College showed off their visual arts project turned software programme - special glasses with infrared sensors and a speaker. The four outspoken fourth form students from the Old Hope Road institution were confident that their invention (Justin Linton's brainchild) could easily and effectively replace support canes and guide dogs for the blind and visually impaired. Team captain Corey Smith proudly explained for teenAGE just how their software programme would work; the infrared sensor on the pair of glasses sensing objects or obstructions nearby with the speaker cluing in the wearer about the object and its nearness.
As per the competition's rules, each innovation was allowed seven minutes' presentation time with a five minute question and answer session lead by the competition's panel of judges immediately thereafter. Entries were mandated to be the creative products of students enrolled to the school entering the product, and entries were to be evaluated for design appeal, ease of use, functionality, performance of product and product viability on the market.
Among the morning's memorable presentations were Cornwall College's smart phone projector (that does not require electricity to work) and water potability tester; Edith Dalton James High School'sHymenaea Courbaril (Stinking Toe) cupcakes; Hampton School's 'afountarium' (a 2-in-1 aquarium and fountain) and bamboo straws; and Spot Valley High School's cannabis soap.
Student presenters very ably introduced and defended their innovations, standing up to the judges' scrutiny, and in most cases, exceeding expectations. Despite the fact that all these student innovators were vying for a cash prize, trophy and bragging rights as this year's winner, it was clear that for all present the real reward and challenge had been finishing their projects.
TeenAGE Observer wishes to congratulate this year's crop of competitors on a job well done! The future of STEM, innovation and entrepreneurialismlook bright (and blessedly more female than they have ever looked before).
The top 12 schools will meet again next month for another round of judging, where the winners will be decided.

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